A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances used to destroy, suppress or alter the life cycle of any pest. The most common way to classify pesticides is by the target organism, such as herbicides (weed control), fungicides (fungi control) and insecticides (insect control).
Pesticide use in Australia is stringently regulated by State environment protection authorities, food authorities and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) which is charged with evaluating the safety and performance of all such chemicals sold, registering and de-registering them. APVMA provides extensive advice to the public about pesticides and their safe application.Although there are important benefits from the proper use of pesticides, like crop protection and prevention of human disease outbreaks, there are also risks associated with contamination of, for example, groundwater and surface-water resources, which can subsequently alter a human and environmental health. More importantly, pesticides are used almost everywhere – not only in agricultural fields, but also in homes, parks, schools, buildings, forests and roads. As a result, pesticides can be found in the air we breathe, the soil we grow crops in, the food we eat and the water we drink.
Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption. Pesticides can also have a dramatic environmental effect, e.g. damage agricultural land by harming beneficial insect species and soil microorganisms, weakening plant root system, harming worms which naturally limit pest population and maintain soil health. As a result it is important to remember every pesticide is toxic if the exposure level is high enough.
NMI has developed sensitive and highly selective tests for the determination of a large range of environmentally important pesticides at trace levels in water and soil (see the table below). All our test methods have NATA accreditation:
Click here for details of how we test for glyphosate and its derivatives.
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